Lucy strained her eyes, and shaded them, and gazed again. Presently she turned her head, and glanced at Lionel. An expression in her eyes seemed to call him, and he advanced.
“What is it, Lucy? We must have a set of gallant men here to-night, to leave you alone like this!”
The compliment fell unheeded on her ear. Compliments from him! Lionel only so spoke to hide his real feelings.
“Look on the lawn, right before us,” said Lucy to him, in a low tone. “Underneath the spreading yew-tree. Do you not fancy the trunk looks remarkably dark and thick?”
“The trunk remarkably dark and thick!” echoed Lionel. “What do you mean, Lucy?” For he judged by her tone that she had some hidden meaning.
“I believe that some man is standing there. He must be watching this room.”
Lionel could not see it. His eyes had not been watching so long as Lucy’s, consequently objects were less distinct. “I think you must be mistaken, Lucy,” he said. “No one would be at the trouble of standing there to watch the room. It is too far off to see much, whatever may be their curiosity.”
Lucy held her hands over her eyes, gazing attentively from beneath them. “I feel convinced of it now,” she presently said. “There is some one, and it looks like a man, standing behind the trunk, as if hiding himself. His head is pushed out on this side, certainly, as though he were watching these windows. I have seen the head move twice.”
Lionel placed his hands in the same position, and took a long gaze. “I do think you are right, Lucy!” he suddenly exclaimed. “I saw something move then. What business has any one to plant himself there?”
He stepped impulsively out as he spoke—the windows opened to the ground—crossed the terrace, descended the steps, and turned on the lawn, to the left hand. A minute, and he was up at the tree.
But he gained no satisfaction. The spreading tree, with its imposing trunk—which trunk was nearly as thick as a man’s body—stood all solitary on the smooth grass, no living thing being near it.
“We must have been mistaken, after all,” thought Lionel.
Nevertheless, he stood under the tree, and cast his keen glances around. Nothing could he see; nothing but what ought to be there. The wide lawn, the sweet flowers closed to the night, the remoter parts where the trees were thick, all stood cold and still in the white moonlight. But of human disturber there was none.
Lionel went back again, plucking a white geranium blossom and a sprig of sweet verbena on his way. Lucy was sitting alone, as he had left her.
“It was a false alarm,” he whispered. “Nothing’s there, except the tree.”
“It was not a false alarm,” she answered. “I saw him move away as you went on to the lawn. He drew back towards the thicket.”
“Are you sure?” questioned Lionel, his tone betraying that he doubted whether she was not mistaken.